A lot of my friends in high school were runners.
And by runners I mean long-distance, cross-country, eight miles a day, crazy a** runners.
I used to envy them. I wished so bad I had that ‘runners gene’ that they were so lucky to be born with. I used to think that running for long distances was the best way to lose weight. I mean you are burning HUNDREDS of calories and those runners were SO skinny.
I later found out that even though you are burning tons of calories, when you run, you aren’t losing fat, you’re losing muscle.
This science behind it is this:
Our mind and surroundings may be in the 21st century but our body and instincts are stuck back in our primal period.
This means that when we run our body can’t determine if we are running from something that’s trying to eat us or running to something we are trying to eat. Either way, the body thinks it needs to conserve energy and make it last as long as possible.
Our muscles are great for burning calories. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. (That is why it is SOOO important to do weight training if you are trying to lose weight) However, when your body is trying to conserve energy and it sees that your muscle is burning off all these excess calories, your body begins to attack your muscle.
This means that when you run long distances at a consistent pace, you are not burning a lot of fat, but instead burning the muscle that is so vital to fat loss.
So if we aren’t designed to run long distances, what are we designed to do?
Our body is made to walk long distances at slow speeds and sprint, giving 100%, for very short periods of time. (Think back to when humans had to hunt for food and not just hit up the local Whole Foods)
Many fitness experts call these two forms of exercising L.I.S.S. (Low Intensity Steady State) and H.I.I.T. (High Intensity Interval Training).
For those of you who have never heard about HIIT training, here’s a quick summary.
HIIT is made up of extremely intense short spurts of energy like sprinting, jump rope, or any other exercise your muscles physically could not do for over a minute….yah….INTENSE. Then it is followed by something easy like walking or a period of rest. This process is repeated several times (repetition is dependent upon the exercise) and usually lasts about 10-15 minutes.
The great thing about HIIT training is it burns MAJOR fat, where everyday jogging burns muscle. If you haven’t seen a lot of results on the workout program you are on, a lack of HIIT may be what’s causing the problem.
There are several major ways that HIIT training works in order to lose fat. For those of you who needs solid scientific evidence in order to begin incorporating a new exercise into your workout plan (ahem…me) here are the very technical ways of why HIIT is SO GREAT!
“The first way deals with glycogenolysis, or the breakdown of glycogen as energy. This is so important because your muscles, livers, etc. all store glycogen. Once all the organs fill up with glycogen, the remaining energy will be stored as fat. HIIT just so happens to be the best way to drain these build-ups. This way the sugar in the food you eat will go to fill up the storages and used later for energy, rather than be turned into fat.
The second benefit of HIIT is the fact that it restores insulin sensitivity. Why should you care about ‘sensitive insulin’? Because insulin resistance is a classic sign of fat, and not just any fat, BELLY FAT. When we are able to improve our insulin sensitivity we are able to break down belly fat easily.
The third benefit is that muscle glycogen gets metabolized quickly. By doing HIIT glycogen is released almost instantaneously and is immediately used, rather than getting released and then stored as fat somewhere else in your body.
Hormone sensitive lipases helps break down your fat stores and use it as energy. Where normal jogging will cause a loss in muscle, HIIT will activate those hormones and as a result burn pure fat. (A blog post soon to come about the role hormones play in losing weight)
The final way the HIIT helps you burn fat is known as the amplification cascade. This is by far the biggest advantage HIIT training has over jogging. When you do a HIIT workout the amplification cascade blocks your body from being able to store excess sugar, not just during the workout, but for upwards of an entire day. This means that if you do HIIT training in the morning, much of the food and sugars you consume will be immediately used as energy and not stored in your body. This is HUGE. Normal running may result in a fifteen minute running high, but has no where near the benefits that HIIT training has on the body.”
So now you are ready to hit the gym and try this new type of training out.
There are a few things to remember before starting.
One is to try and limit your training to 2-3 days a week. It’s called HIGH INTENSITY interval training for a reason. You need to give your body adequate time to rest and recover.
The second is the “I” in HIIT stands for INTENSE. For the time period you are doing the intense interval you need to be going hard. Any exercise you chose to do, whether it’s running, biking, burpees, or lifting heavy weights, needs to completely tire your body within the span of a minute. The rest is just as vital to the body as the intense interval. So it is crucial to take breaks between difficult intervals.
So try incorporating HIIT training into your morning routine in order to put a jump start to your day. It only takes about 10 minutes so NO EXCUSES.
Most importantly, don’t forget to have a nice healthy meal after! You don’t want to ruin the hard work you have done by stuffing your face with bagels..because we know you want to.
What HIIT exercises do you do?
//The Lokahi Sisters//